Sanderson disputes false advertising lawsuit claims

Sanderson Farms is disputing a lawsuit that accuses the company of falsely advertising poultry products as “100% Natural.”

(Stephen Stacey |
(Stephen Stacey |

Sanderson Farms is disputing a lawsuit that accuses the company of falsely advertising poultry products as “100% Natural.” The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Center for Food Safety, the Organic Consumers Association and Friends of the Earth.

According to a press release issued by the three organizations that filed the suit, Sanderson Farms’ products described as being “100% Natural” or containing “nothing but chicken,” contain residues of human and animal antibiotics, other pharmaceuticals, hormones, steroids and pesticides.

In the complaint, filed on June 22 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, the organizations seek an order enjoining Sanderson Farms from continuing its “100% Natural” marketing program.

Sanderson Farms statement

Sanderson Farms, which is the third largest poultry company in the United States, issued the following statement: “Sanderson Farms generally does not comment on pending litigation, but the allegations in this lawsuit bear upon food quality and safety. The company unequivocally states it does not administer the antibiotics, other chemicals and pesticides, or "other pharmaceuticals" listed in the complaint to its flocks, with one exception. To suggest otherwise is false and irresponsible. Company veterinarians do, on rare occasions, prescribe penicillin to treat sick poultry flocks when in their professional judgement they consider it necessary for animal welfare. Such medicines are given in accordance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance, including a withdrawal period between the time the medicine is administered and when the flock is harvested. Most all of the other drugs and chemicals cited in the complaint are not approved for use in chickens, and some would be lethal to chickens.

“In its 70-year history, Sanderson Farms has never been cited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or any other regulatory body for violation of any residue law, rule or regulation.

“Sanderson Farms will vigorously defend this lawsuit. The company also intends to continue its marketing and advertising campaign to educate consumers on its position regarding the judicious use of FDA-approved medicines to treat sick chickens and to prevent disease in chicken flocks. Such use is consistent with Sanderson Farms' animal welfare obligations to the animals under its care, its environmental sustainability efforts and the Company's obligations regarding food safety.”

Firms representing plaintiffs

The organizations that have filed the complaints are being represented by Richman Law Group, Brooklyn, New York; Elsner Law & Policy, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Center for Food Safety.

The formal complain can be found on the Center for Food Safety website.

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